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Well Pump Help!

Posted by mister_h Chino Hills, CA (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 3, 08 at 12:20

Our family have a small weekend get-away house which gets own water from a underground well (30'? deep). The house is in the mountain at 5600' elevation and the water is very hard/lots of mineral. When we were up there last weekend, we noticed that no water was coming out from any of the faucets inside or outside of the house. When I checked the well pump/motor assembly (the one above the ground - and I think there is another one underground, right?), it was making a buzzing sound only, not turning, and the motor housing was very warm to touch. So, I immediately shut off the power to it. I waited several hours until the motor housing was cool to touch and turned on the power again, but the same thing happened - buzzing sound and not turning over. So, I partially removed the motor/pump housing in the middle of the assembly (it is a Goulds Pump, 1 hp, 230V, 3450 rpm, 6.5 amp, single phase) until I could see the motor shaft. With the power/electricity completely shut OFF, I tried to turn over the motor shaft by hand, but I could not. Apparently it locked up solid. I am a totally newbie to well pump/motor and here are some questions:
> Is the "locking up" common on such well pump motor?
> What can cause the motor to lock up?
> For a locked up motor, it better to rebuild it or replace with a new one?
> If you recommend replacing it, is it something a Saturday mechanic can do it (I've replaced pistons/cylinders on motorcycles a few times successfully)?
Thank you in advance for your input.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Well Pump Help!

If you are mechanically inclined and enjoy doing it, you can get the parts and repair it, though the motor may also be shot. Most people will just replace the pump. If the impellers and the housing are both damaged, a new pump will be cheaper than repairs. If you are actually lifting the water 30 feet, you will need a deep well pump. Otherwise a shallow well pump will work fine if the lift to the pump is under about 22-25 feet.

Hard to say just what happened, but quite likely water was left running somewhere and exceeded the well's capacity and ran the well dry, then the pump continued to run until it seized.

If your pump is above ground, then there will be nothing down the well. Just a foot valve at the end of the intake water line in the well.

You will want to check everything out and find out if you have a water leak somewhere or if a faucet was left on. There could also be an air leak on the intake side that caused the pump to lose its prime.

If you use the water for household use and not for landscape watering, check out your actual pumping needs. A 1/2 or 3/4 hp pump may be quite sufficient. Using an oversized pump for your needs will shorten the life of the pump, so check out that you have the correct size for your pumping needs. 3 gpm. is generally sufficient for household use and 7 gpm is sufficient for yard watering through a hose. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, then you need to make sure the pump has the capacity to fill the needs of the sprinkler system. An oversized pump is also more likely to pump the well dry if it has limited flow.

If your pump is away from the house where you can't hear if it is running or not, I would advise replacing the pressure switch that comes with your next pump with a low pressure cut off switch (costs about $25). It looks and works the same, only it will shut the pump down if the pressure gets under about 10psi. This prevents the pump from running dry and burning out. These switches have saved me from buying 3 or 4 new pumps in the last few years.

RE: Well Pump Help!

The motor locked up, and it could be caused by one of several things such as environment (corrosion) or worn-out bearings (age). Highly unlikely it "ran until it seized up"; most shallow-well pump motors have built-in thermal protection against just such an occurence.

Replace the pump. It's easier and more cost-effective than replacing just the motor. And it's not worth it at all to rebuild the motor.

Before attaching your new pump (which can be the same HP, etc., as the old one), check both well depth AND depth-to-water. You can have a well that's 100 feet deep, but depth-to-water should not exceed about 22ft. One other thing: depth-to-water should be at least 15 ft. LESS than total well depth, to allow for 10 ft. of well screen and draw-down.

And always turn OFF power to the pump when closing up the getaway - you may have to re-prime your pump, but you'll save yourself some headaches. That low-pressure cut-off switch is a good idea, but don't rely on it exclusively.


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